Recreational Activities in Martinsville, VA
The Smith River Sports Complex and the Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail are two new recreation attractions luring active types in Martinsville-Henry County.
Smith River Sports Complex has been open since July 2009, while the Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail held its ribbon-cutting ceremony in October 2010. Both sites have already become popular destinations for sports fans and anyone looking to get in shape.
Smith River Sports Complex is a $9.7 million facility that was paid for by The Harvest Foundation.
“The Harvest Foundation was formed in 2002 after Martinsville Memorial Hospital was sold, and the foundation wanted to construct a sports complex to attract tournaments to our community to boost the economy,” says Billy Russo, Smith River Sports Complex director of operations.
The complex has six fields that include two with artificial turf, and the other four have Bermuda grass. Sports played there include soccer, football, lacrosse, field hockey, ultimate frisbee, flag football and rugby. There is no baseball or softball.
“It has provided a good boost for the local economy,” Russo says. “For example, during the three months of fall 2010, the complex brought in $400,000 thanks to field rentals for tournaments, hotel rooms booked, restaurants visited and so forth.”
Besides tournaments, the complex is ideal for local athletics. The Carlisle School field hockey team plays its entire season on the artificial fields, and the Virginia Storm semi-pro football team also plays there. The complex is also home to the Piedmont Youth Soccer League.
“Big events we’ve also hosted include a soccer tournament for 70 youth teams in November 2010, and a lacrosse tournament in mid-2010 with people arriving from 17 states,” Russo says. “We’re even planning a dog show and have held two weddings here – with another one coming up.”
4.5 Miles to Explore
Meanwhile, the Dick & Willie Rail Trail has also become a popular recreation destination, even in its short history. The trail stretches 4.5 miles over railroad tracks formerly owned by Danville & Western Railway, whose trains once chugged through Martinsville.
“The trail has been asphalted and is 10 feet wide, and it’s affectionately known as the Dick & Willie after the original engineer and the original conductor of the railway,” says Brian Williams, project manager with Dan River Basin Association, which partners with Henry County Parks and Recreation to oversee upkeep of the trail.
Williams says it’s perfect for anyone who wants to run, bike, rollerblade or push a stroller.
“The trail stretches from Virginia Avenue in Martinsville at mile zero near Wal-mart, then dead-ends at Mulberry Creek,” he says. “A brochure will be ready around late 2011 to pinpoint all highlights of the trail.”
Pedaling Right Along
An interesting aspect of the Dick & Willie Trail is a service offered by Activate Martinsville-Henry County, a nonprofit organization that does a lot of good things in the community. Activate runs a Bike Barn on weekends so that residents can sign-out a bicycle for free, pedal it as long as they want and then return it.
“During the first half of 2011, more than 700 bicyclists utilized the free service,” Williams says. “Just park your car at a trailhead, get a bike and go. There are 30 really nice bikes to choose from, and the service is just another way to help keep our residents healthy.”